His most innovative educational work was a version of 'Euclid's Elements' which used coloured graphic explanations of each geometric principle. It was published by Pickering (publishers) in 1847.
The book has become the subject of renewed interest in recent years for its innovative graphic conception and its style which prefigures the modernist experiments of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Information design writer Edward Tufte refers to the book in his work on graphic design and McLean in his Victorian book design of 1963. In 2010 Taschen republished the work in a facsimile edition.